Three Central Themes for 2015: critical pedagogy, lean libraries, & creative disruption

January 3, 2015, 5:53 pm

This is my ninth year blogging. When I started The Ubiquitous Librarian my intention was to explore engagement techniques—new ways of connecting with the community I served. The blog helped document some of these efforts and provided a conversation channel with others doing similar work.

I tend to be all over the map: technology, scholarly communication, marketing, assessment, learning commons, classroomshackathons, embedded librarians, and so on. As I’ve moved into library administration my tone and content as changed. And when I eventually switched over to the Chronicle of Higher Education that altered my voice as well.

Every so often I contemplate walking away from the blog. Sometimes it feels more like a chore rather than a creative outlet. The Chronicle doesn’t pay me, but they do amplify my message. When I hear from software developers, architects, faculty, CIOs, or Vice Provosts from around the county – I realize that I’m reaching outside of librarianship. When that happens it makes me feel there is still value in the effort.

Over the past few years I’ve been struggling with identity. Who is my audience? What am I trying to say? What do I hope to accomplish? This year I want to operate with a little more structure. I am going to focus on three central themes:

#1 Critical Pedagogy
I’ve been obsessed with this topic lately. I have lots of notes, correspondence, and other fragments but I can’t quite shape my thoughts clearly. My instructional emphasis has always been grounded in helping students with their assignments but after reading books like Critical Library Instruction and Radical Information Literacy my mind is opening to some new ideas. I want to take a full year to explore these concepts and see where it leads.

#2 Lean Libraries
I was introduced to lean while working on a paper about applying startup thinking to libraries. There is some overlap with design thinking and user experience methodologies and I want to explore that more deeply. It so happens that a colleague of mine is a lean guru and he has been tutoring me. I’m all in now! I aspire to lead a library based on the principles of lean thinking– these posts will outline that foundation.

#3 Creative Disruption
Creative disruption has been with me since the beginning. I’ve always sought new ways to provide reference and other library services. We can disrupt ourselves (our policies, procedures, workflows, and mindsets) but I’m actually more interested in the big picture. How technologies and other aspects will disrupt publishing, teaching, and higher education in general. Developing our vocabulary and fluency with change literacy and related concepts will prepare us for whatever the future reveals… and also position librarians to help their communities evolve as well.

the futureSo that’s the year ahead. I’ll definitely veer off course from time to time but I’m excited about these topics and pushing the boundaries of librarianship just a little bit further.


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